Gardener's Grapevine 2011.06.29

Written by David Green.

Sunday afternoon in Morenci is quiet and peaceful on my front porch, with a few cars going by, some kids on bikes, and the birds tweeting. Does it get much more relaxing? Soon the “lake parade” will start—people who weekend at the lake will head home and Main Street will be a parade route.

Many people drive from Point A to Point B and never really pay attention to most of the world going by. There are so many interesting and beautiful things and some quirky things also. My great-grandparents liked to take rides in the country and see how the crops were doing. They were farmers and such things made a huge impact on their lives. I drive close to an hour to work and most of it is in the country. I watch barns and homes being built and some being torn down. I see farmers every day in their fields.

It used to be that farmers separated their fields with fence rows which would overgrow with weeds, flowers and all manner of wild animals. This set property lines, but with the onset of mega farms, we see fewer and fewer fence rows. They’ve been replaced by miles of open farm fields.

A friend of mine asked me to write about wildflowers. She said it’s hard to know the types of flowers along the roadside because she has lived all over the country and every place she lives there are different wildflowers. I can see her point, however, I have lived here my entire life and only know a handful of wildflowers. Some of the ones I knew as a child are not seen so much anymore. The one that comes to mind is Queen Anne’s Lace. It used to be everywhere. My grandmother Katherine Wollter lives on Stateline Road, south of town, and she would put food coloring in a vase and I would pick Queen Anne’s Lace and place it in the vase. In the morning it would be the color of the food coloring and I was an amazed little kid. I did see a large amount of it over by Seneca along the road last week.

A lot of our native wildflowers that used to be roadside have gone away due to spraying and mowing. The county and state do this routinely. Sure, it keeps things tidy and the visibility is better, but I personally would rather see the flowers. The spindly plant with blue flowers on top is chicory. It is really pretty in bunches. There is still plenty of goldenrod for those of you with the wonderful allergies. Goldenrod seems to be hardy in a lot of conditions as it is so many different places.

Do any of you remember “ditch lilies?” Orange lilies that bloomed in late June or early July and were usually found in ditches. A lot of people dug them up and put them in their yards. They are a wildflower also. Mary Lampe told me the tall purple flowers that you sometimes see are called shooting fireworks—I always knew them as wild phlox.

There are hundreds of wildflowers, most of which are actually weeds that flower. There is a wonderful book on wildflowers called “Wildflowers of Michigan.” It tells what might pop up in different areas of the state and has a picture along with a description of the plant and its flower. I will warn you if you like wildflowers, be careful digging them up as some are protected due to endangerment like wild trillium. Another thing to point out is if you purchase wildflower seed beware, along with flowers you will positively get lots of weed seeds, too. But wildflowers are weeds, so does it matter?

Congratulations to the Erskin family on being chosen Garden of the Month. They live on East Street North and have a very beautiful home enhanced by many plants and flowers.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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